Evangelicals Are Not Christians

Evangelical Christianity has been a significant force in American politics for nearly 40 years. It dominates the Republican Party and through that much of the debate on public morality. This is a strange development for many reasons, however.

Given that about 25% of all Americans identify as evangelical protestants, they are far from a majority. They owe their influence to a rigid deference to leadership and a high degree of stubborn political action. For all of this power beyond their numbers, however, the biggest mystery is where their agenda comes from.

It’s certainly not the Christian Bible. Very little of the evangelical agenda is justified by the good book, and some is even directly opposed to the words of Jesus. It’s long past time to call out the beliefs of this group and question their agenda because it is, if anything, not generally backed by consistent Christian writings or tradition.

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Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas is a time for remembering everything that has come before us. It’s not a kind of memorial day when we remember what we lost, but instead a day to remember the great gifts that have come to us over the many years. The circle of gratitude is widened every year as the holiday expands with new love and new memories.

This is a special Christmas because fifty years ago we received one of the great gifts of television, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. In many ways this defines the tension of Christmas itself, even though very little in popular culture has been willing to decry the commercialism that is the true “War on Christmas”. And in the process it gave us a new definition of holiday cheer, bringing Vince Guaraldi’s cool jazz into the warm holiday like a sprig of winter itself.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas is a time for remembering everything that has come before us. It’s not a kind of memorial day when we remember what we lost, but instead a day to remember the great gifts that have come to us over the many years. The circle of gratitude is widened every year as the holiday expands with new love and new memories.

This is a special Christmas because it is the 50th one for which we have one of the great gifts of television, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. In many ways this defines the tension of Christmas itself, even though very little in popular culture has been willing to decry the commercialism that is the true “War on Christmas”. And in the process it gave us a new definition of holiday cheer, bringing Vince Guaraldi’s cool jazz into the warm holiday like a sprig of winter itself.

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Empathy

Empathy. It’s a powerful concept that’s become one of the hot buzz words at the end of this year. Much has been written and said about it lately, and for good reasons. Our politics, which is little more than the collective values of people forced to share a social space with each other, is often rightly criticized for lacking in basic empathy. The message of Pope Francis comes down to a call for more empathy for those who are in pain, not power. But what is empathy?

There are many ways to define it, but the simplest is “The ability to share another person’s emotions.” Empathy defies not just logic, but space – it’s about stepping outside of yourself for at least a moment. It’s a connection to the pain that others feel beyond any logical argument. And true empathy comes when you can do this for people you otherwise don’t even like.

The lack of empathy goes many ways, however. This Christmas is a good time to truly practice empathy.

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Light a Single Candle

Winter Solstice arrives right on schedule this Friday, 21 December, at 11:12 UTC – 5:12 in the morning here by mythical Central Time.  It’s being celebrated as the end of the world, probably not because anyone believes that’s going to happen.  No Mayan actually predicted such an event, but it is the end of their 13 Baktun cycle.  My guess is that the Mayans would have used this as an excuse to celebrate too, although their idea of a “party” often involved horrific acts of violence.  It’s a staple of the day.

What really happens is that this is the moment when the North Pole is pointing directly away from the sun and starts its wobble back.  The exact moment of change in the orbit is also the moment when the long nights change the least, in keeping with the nature of cycles.  Light defines the season for us even more than dark notions of destruction because it is the light that will return.  That is more worthy of a party to me.

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